Shop Talk | Tech Matters

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Motorcycling is my life, but fishing, especially offshore saltwater fishing, runs a very close second. I don’t fish as much as I used to, but whenever the opportunity presents itself, I’ll spend a day on the water, preferably with Captain Tim Griffiths and crew aboard the Middlebank 11 out of Bridgeport, Connecticut (how’s that for a shameless plug?).

If you know anything about fishing, you know that lures catch as many fishermen as fish. It’s a strong-willed angler that can pass a tackle shop without stopping to buy something, be it a package of hooks, a new lure or some useless gadget that’ll lay unused at the bottom of a tackle box until it rots. So I usually swing by my local tackle shop before every trip to pick up anything I need, and, as you’ve probably already guessed, a few things I don’t.

This time I decided to try a new big box store in town, Dick’s Sporting Goods, partly because my local tackle shop tends to cater to the bass-and-trout crowd, and as such doesn’t carry a lot of saltwater terminal tackle. Like most of these gigantic toy stores, Dick’s is full of everything from golf clubs to shotguns and, for the most part, is wonderfully organized and efficient—and somewhat cheaper than the local shop, to boot.

What I needed were a few 5-ounce lead sinkers of a particular style called a “dipsey.” Normally the sinkers are neatly arranged by weight and type in cubby holes, but for some reason on this particular day, they were a jumbled mess. I rummaged through the pile for maybe ten minutes before finding what I needed, and then picked up a few more things, like leaders, a couple of Bluefish rigs, and some Striped bass plugs that I probably already had plenty of. What the hell—you can never have too much tackle.

…that Kawasaki is as real a motorcycle as you’ll ever see and it’ll take me further and faster in one week than you’ve ridden in your whole miserable life…

Well apparently you can, because with both hands full, I tried to retrieve my helmet from the floor, which was a little tricker than I’d anticipated. Just about the time I figured out that I could dump everything into my helmet and make my way to the checkout counter, a little nebbish of a man dressed in a Dick’s uniform rounded the corner and asked if he could help. Since things were by then under control, I thanked him and said no.

He then asked, “What kind of bike do you ride?” Rather than get into a long discussion, I replied, “Kawasaki Vaquero,” at which point he said, “I’m sorry, I thought you had a real motorcycle.” I nearly seized up. I couldn’t believe my ears, and was completely speechless, but only for a moment. “Why you little pissant, that Kawasaki is as real a motorcycle as you’ll ever see and it’ll take me further and faster in one week than you’ve ridden in your whole miserable life, and by the way A**hole, what do you ride?!” “I don’t have a bike right now” was his reply, followed by a strangled, “ Sorry, I was just kidding,” and a hasty retreat.

I was about to stick one of my Bluefish hooks through his ear and reel him back in but thought better of it and made my way to the checkout counter. The tab was about 30 bucks, and when the girl asked me if it was cash or charge, I said neither and asked for the manager. He wasn’t available, so I said, “this is what I was going to buy before the fishing tackle clerk insulted me, (and by extension, Kawasaki and everyone who rides one). I left my business card and asked her to have the manager call me.

When I got home, I was still seething, so I sat down and wrote Dick’s a polite email explaining the situation. They sent me back a polite form letter saying they were sorry and that they hoped I’d continue to shop at Dick’s. I won’t—at least not until I receive what I consider to be a proper apology.

Now, I understand that the clerk acted on his own volition and that he doesn’t represent Dick’s official policy towards motorcycle riders and that it’s really not fair to hold Dick’s Sporting Goods responsible for the actions of one of their idiotic employees, but I don’t really care, especially in light of their lame follow up. Would they have treated it so lightly if the clerk had maligned my race or religion, or if they’d received a call from Kawasaki Corporate? I don’t think so.

It’s been six months since that incident and I’ve yet to enter another Dick’s store. I’m sure that hasn’t impacted sales, but my boycott and this column are the only means I have of expressing my displeasure. I’m not naïve, and I don’t expect a real apology from Dick’s; as far as they’re concerned I’m just some nameless jerk that one of their minimum wage clerks insulted. They sent me a form letter, so case closed. Maybe I’m wrong to take this so personally, and maybe I’m wrong to hold the actions of one dumbass against an entire company, but frankly, I don’t give a hoot. I just don’t do business with people that malign races, religions, or one’s choice of motorcycle, no matter how accurate the name on the building is.